The Importance of Appreciating Neurodiversity

Nina Park '24

In recent history, we have learned to accept and appreciate different kinds of diversities. Slowly but surely, we have learned to acknowledge that no one is born the same way and that our world is nothing but interactions and cooperation between unique individuals. Take gender diversity, for example. From the granting of women suffrage in 1920, the first legalization of the same-sex marriage in Massechusetts in 2004, to the social acknowledgement of gender as a flexible concept in today’s society, the United States has come a long way from acknowledging gender equality to appreciating people who do not define themselves within the conventional boundaries of men and women. However, just like the process of learning new things, the more we delve into appreciating diversity, the more knots that we seem to find that need resolution. Neurodiversity, or the acknowledgement of the fact that no mind thinks the same way, stands as one of the crucial knots awaiting to be disentangled. 

Neurodiversity refers to any and all forms of psychological and mental conditions of an individual. The appreciation of neurodiversity is acknowledging that conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and Dyslexia should be considered not as a defect but as an individual’s unique process of thinking. [1] Furthermore, it is celebrating the diversity of minds as the driving force of the creative legacies of our world. At its greater scope of definition, appreciation of neurodiversity also embraces the slogan “It’s ok to be not ok”, indicating that mental discomfort such as depression and anxiety should be socially accepted as much as they are prevalent. 

Being in a state with the greatest population of people with autism, Basking Ridge has successfully adopted measures and fostered programs to appreciate neurodiversity. Statewise, New Jersey has been organizing a registry of people with ASD within the state to better aid them with their needs and to guarantee their representation within the society. Public schools provide special services to students who require mental or psychological support to make sure that their neurodiverse conditions do not exclude them from all educational opportunities that the school offers. Furthermore, they ensure that everyone becomes a constructive member of the society when fully grown.  Through organizations such as Bernard’s Parents with Exceptional Children, parents with neurodiverse children are able to communicate with one another and plan recreational activities for neurodiverse children in need. [2] Expanding beyond childhood, nonprofit organizations such as Luv Michael seek to provide job opportunities for grown adults with autism. [3]

The margin of further growth of the activities appreciating neurodiversity extends to the participation of us: high school students. Understanding that everyone looks at this world through different lenses and that no way of thinking is superior to another is a great place to begin. Even simply reaching out to someone who seems to be going through a hard time and letting them know that “it’s ok not to be ok” is a great way to appreciate neurodiversity and show empathy. 

Neurodiversity, as much as it is a concept that may sound unfamiliar and obscure,  is a concept that requires our attention and understanding. Attempting to appreciate and celebrate neurodiversity, in my humble opinion, is one of the major steps that we can take in order to make our community a more inclusive, welcoming and comforting place for everyone. Just as a bucket of water is filled with persistent yet tiny water drops, small efforts can lead to big changes when combined with dedication and empathy.